For many people, the idea of going to the dentist is enough to strike fear into the heart (and the gums). When we’re young, we worry about the pain, and when we’re older, the cost only adds to our distress, especially for those who need the latest developments in sedation dentistry.
It’s normal to feel nervous – but if you have had enough of talking yourself into the dentist’s chair for the good of your teeth, you’re in luck! These tips will help you walk out of the waiting room with a smile on your face.
Find a dentist you trust
It might be hard to imagine when you’re in the chair looking up at the bright lights, but your dentist really is just another human being doing their job, and they want the best for you as their patient!
At Dental Logic, we understand your feelings of apprehension and do our best to make you feel more comfortable, but for some patients, that just isn’t enough.
If you’re coming to see us for the first time, request an extra-long appointment so that you can talk and build a rapport with the team. You might be surprised just how effective this can be in helping you to overcome your fears. Before any appointment, we explain the entire procedure to you, so you know what’s coming and make sure you are warned before injections or anything else that might be painful or surprising whilst in the chair.
Book regular appointments
It’s only natural that your fear of the dentist makes you want to delay appointments for as long as possible, but the truth is that this will likely worsen your sense of fear and apprehension for two reasons.
Firstly, as human beings, our brains are very good at catastrophising. You might have visions of your impending experience at the dentist that seem much worse than they would be in reality, or find yourself imagining the worst-case scenario before you have even arrived.
Secondly, there’s a good chance that part of your fear stems from the unknown: the pains and potential problems that have not been diagnosed. Your fear of receiving bad news about your teeth might make you want to delay dental appointments, even when your rational brain knows that the delay only makes those problems a more likely occurrence.
Use relaxation techniques
When you were a child, your parents probably told you to take a deep breath whenever you needed to calm down – and it probably worked.
As millions of meditators across the world will tell you, deep breathing for stress relief is just as effective as it ever was, but it’s not the only thing you can do to calm down.
Tensing and relaxing your muscles is another great way to relax. It works because it’s very difficult to be physically relaxed and still feel mentally stressed or tense, and it’s easy to do in almost any situation – tension balls are also available to squeeze!
Even the calmest dental patient would agree that having someone (or multiple people) standing over your face with tools in your mouth can get a bit much. That’s why it’s so important to remember that you don’t have to do the whole treatment without a break.
The best thing you can do before the treatment part of your appointment begins is to speak to the dentist and develop a “stop” cue such as a hand raise. This way, you’ll be able to wordlessly ask the dentist to stop at any time if you’re feeling panicked or in need of a breather.
Even if you can’t think of going to the dentist as a positive thing, you can always divert your attention to something else while it’s happening.
We have blue tooth headphones which you can sync with your own music for people who need a little help getting into a calm headspace. Think of your dentist appointment as an opportunity to take some well-deserved time away from the computer screen or the worksite and listen to a favourite piece of music or a soothing audiobook.
Remember: some dentist-related fear is common, with some people even developing full-blown dental phobia – but that doesn’t mean you have to accept the nerves and panic every time you need a check-up. The next time you feel tempted to cancel your appointment or ignore that gnawing pain in your mouth, read over these points and tap into your courage!